As every believer knows, an icon is not a beautiful picture and a tribute to fashion, but an Image of God, saints or the Mother of God. Icons are images without authorship, through which we address prayer, but not decorative elements. Accordingly, the free use of icons is disrespect both for Christian traditions and for oneself.
What icons should be in your home, and how exactly should they be placed according to church canons?
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What icons do you need to have at home for protection, well-being and family happiness?
First of all, you should remember that the icon is not a talisman for happiness, not a horseshoe over the door and not a bear skin with butterflies, hung in Feng Shui. That is, she is not a talisman in his direct understanding. An icon is an image through which we turn to God. And only with sincere prayer, the Lord or the saint, to whom the prayer is offered up, helps us in family well-being and gives his protection.
What icons to put at home is up to you. As the priests say – and one is enough for prayer. If your soul lacks images in the house, or you want to create your own home iconostasis, then you can seek advice from your confessor or just a minister in the church – they will prompt.
Usually the following icons are placed in houses. (the list is not a list of icons that you should definitely buy and hang at home, but only the most revered images through which prayers for well-being in the family are offered up):
- The two main images in the apartment are Savior (as a rule, they choose the Lord Almighty) and, of course, mother of God (for example, Tenderness or Hodegetria). It is impossible to imagine the home of Orthodox Christians without these icons.
- Saint John the Baptist…
- Images of saintswhose names (by baptism) are members of your family.
- Your local revered saints (when creating an iconostasis).
- Great Martyr George the Victorious…
- Nicholas the Wonderworker… The image of this saint, endowed with special grace (protection of travelers, protection from want and poverty), the Orthodox put at home most often.
- Great Martyr Panteleimon (most often they turn to him for healing).
- Apostles Peter and Paul…
- Archangels Gabriel and Michael…
- Kazan Mother of God – the patron of the Russian people, as well as an assistant in work and everyday needs.
- The Holy Trinity, symbolizing wisdom, intelligence and love. One of the key confessional icons in the house.
- Iberian Mother of God – the patron of women and your keeper of the hearth. Before this image, they pray for healing or consolation in trouble.
- Seven-shot… One of the most powerful icons in protecting the home – from envy and anger, from the evil eye, etc. This icon brings harmony, reconciles warring parties, and is often taken with them to important events.
- Healer… Protects from sorrow and troubles, helps in childbirth. Prayers are offered up before her for the healing of the soul and body.
- Inexhaustible Chalice… Healing from addictions, drunkenness and drug addiction, wealth in the home, help and consolation to all who ask in faith.
- Unexpected joy… Before this image, prayers are offered for the health of children, for the well-being of marriage, and for healing.
- Seraphim Sarovsky… This saint is offered prayers for healing.
- Blessed Matrona of Moscow… They turn to her with prayers for healing, for family well-being.
- Peter and Fevronia… Saints known as patrons of marital fidelity. By the way, our “Valentine’s Day” is July 8, the day of remembrance of these saints.
- And other icons that will help you find peace for your soul and in your family.
For the kitchen, the icon of the Savior is most suitable, and for the baby’s room – the Guardian Angel or the Saint – the patron saint of the child.
Where to hang or put icons in the house – tips
Since the days of Ancient Rus, Orthodox houses have been filled with icons. Unfortunately, today for many it is a tribute to fashion, but for an Orthodox and truly believing Christian, an icon is a revered thing, and an appropriate appeal to it is not secular, but emanating from faith.
How to place holy images in the house correctly?
- When choosing a side, they are guided by its special significance in Orthodoxy – it is on the eastern wall of the room that images are always placed. In the absence of such an opportunity, the reference point is a place in which the prayer will not be cramped.
- Strictly avoid the proximity of the icon with secular objects – you should not put statuettes and cosmetics, equipment and other items of momentary, earthly, decorative value next to the images.
- Also, do not hang / place non-iconographic images next to them – panels and paintings (even with religious significance), calendars, secular books, posters, etc. And even lifetime images of saints (photographs) are not recommended – only canonical icons.
- Objects that may be adjacent to the images are lamps and candles, Orthodox literature, incense, holy water, willow twigs, which are usually kept until the next Palm Sunday. Also, the icons and the house itself are traditionally decorated with birch branches (at Pentecost).
- It is customary to put icons, and not hang them on carnations – in specially designated places (red corner, iconostasis, just a special shelf or icon case). Images are not haphazardly hung on the walls like paintings — this does not evoke the necessary sense of calm and contentment needed in prayer.
- Let’s not forget about the hierarchy. The 2 main icons are the Mother of God (placed to the left of the Savior) and the Savior (these icons are always “central”). You cannot place images of saints over these images, as well as over the Holy Trinity. They are located (saints) and below the apostles.
- The variety of writing styles is not recommended either. Choose icons in a uniform manner. Remember that icons are placed in the house after they have been consecrated or already purchased in the church, consecrated.
- The main corner (red) is the farthest corner in the room (usually the right one), located diagonally from the door with a reference to the rising sun.
- Don’t go overboard with icons. For the rest of the rooms (if there is a red corner / iconostasis), one image is enough.
- In the nursery, the image of the saint is placed in such a way that it can be seen by the baby from the crib.
- You should definitely not put an icon on your TV – it’s just blasphemous.
- If you place icons in the room, you should remove all obscene posters, posters, reproductions, paintings, calendars and other walls. Such a neighborhood is unacceptable and inappropriate. Praying to the Savior, in front of whom there is a poster, for example, of a rock band or a picture with “nudity”, is simply pointless.
- In the bedroom, the image is placed at the head of the bed. There is a myth that icons are not placed in the bedroom so that “God does not see the closeness of spouses”. It is worth noting that intimacy in marriage is not a sin, and it is impossible to hide from God, even if you hide all the icons in the nightstand at night.
- The angle in which the images stand should be the most illuminated, and the images themselves should be located above eye level. There should be no barriers between the icon and the gaze (as well as barriers in the form of tables or dressers between you).
But the most important thing, of course, is to remember that …
• The number of icons and the beauty of the iconostasis will not make the life of the Orthodox more pious – sincere prayers before these images do it.
• The icon is not a pagan amulet and not a “accumulator of grace” that you can approach and draw if necessary, but an image through which a prayer is sent to the Lord and Grace to the one who believes in him.
How to position the home iconostasis correctly
As mentioned above, the number of icons does not matter, and you should not put images haphazardly (cover holes in the wallpaper, for example). Icons should have their own light and important place.
Thoughtless empty collecting will give your iconostasis absolutely nothing. A few icons and a prayer from the heart are always stronger than a rich iconostasis with expensive icons in gold frames for display.
- The iconostasis is created in the likeness of the church. Certainly with a hierarchical arrangement of images: in the center – the Savior with the Mother of God (the Savior to her right!), In the same row the Holy Trinity can be located (or above all the images). If there is no Trinity, a crucifix is placed at the top of the iconostasis. All other images are subject to these key icons: the image of John the Baptist is placed to the right of the Savior. This triptych is the Deesis (approx. Prayer, basis). This is followed by saints, reverends and other icons (for example, local saints or nominal ones), which the Orthodox chooses at his own request. The saints are not ranked higher than the Deesis, the apostles, the Trinity.
- An icon lamp is placed on the shelf of the iconostasis, which is lit on the eve and on the days of holidays, on Sundays or during prayer.
- Sometimes images are decorated (as in the old days) with a god. This is a long and narrow canvas towel with embroidered ends. Such gods covered the images from the sides and from above, leaving only faces.
- The kiot is most suitable for the iconostasis – in it the images are better preserved, and the red corner stands out.
- It does not matter whether the icon was painted by the artist who received the blessing for that, by hand, it was bought as a reproduction image or cut from the Orthodox calendar and glued to a solid base. The main thing is to consecrate the icon. While certainly a hand-painted image, linseed oil will always outperform a printed reproduction.
- The choice of the style of images is a matter of taste. It can be Byzantine or Old Russian style – it doesn’t matter. If only not secular (academic is also not welcome). Now it has become fashionable to paint icons as you please, without proper blessing, with a mass of elements “from yourself”, etc. Such icons have a place anywhere – just not in the iconostasis. Mixing styles is also not worth it.
And finally: never confuse the prototype and the image itself. We offer prayer not to the icon, but to the prototype.
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